Sometimes everything you want happens all at once. This is common for career-focused women who also want families since their biggest career opportunities might often coincide with that annoying fertility window. This is exactly what happened to me! Within weeks of founding what became Pacific Audiology Group, I got pregnant, and it is happening again as our second daughter is due to join us this summer. Since our field is full of women with experiences a lot like my own, I wanted to share some of my successes, my failures, and what I continue to learn along the way.
(1) Motherhood and entrepreneurship have a lot in common
Grit, determination, and a lot of love are what it takes to succeed as a parent. Similar qualities are required to thrive at growing your own business. There are some long nights, there is putting something (or someone) else first, and you make some big sacrifices today in exchange for future benefit.
(2) Trust your team and communicate your needs
When I found out I was pregnant with my first daughter I hesitated to tell my business partner. What I eventually realized was that if he did not support this, then he probably wasn’t the right business partner for me. So, after six weeks of pregnancy, I shared the news, even before many in my family knew. I received overwhelming excitement and support and gratitude at the opportunity to business plan so far in advance. Some people may doubt you or not trust you, or may even not want to work with you if you are planning to have kids while working. These people do exist, and I am saying loud and clear: Do not hide your plans from those people and instead do not work with or for them. Tied directly into trust and transparency is communication. Communicate your needs clearly. Often what can be interpreted as a lack of caring is a lack of understanding by colleagues. Here are two examples of how clearly communicating my needs during pregnancy and early motherhood helped me and my work.
- At seven months pregnant, I was huge. My feet were so swollen I could barely stand, and Dan and I were teaching a seven-hour in-person workshop. I was more than nervous so I communicated the concerns I had. Dan set up two chairs so I could teach seated with my feet up whenever I needed, and we alternated teaching more often (every 30 min) so I would have sitting breaks.
- In the early days of building Pacific Audiology Group, my daughter was transitioning to two naps per day and her schedule was erratic. Sometimes her first nap was 9:00 AM, sometimes it was at 11 AM, which was a nightmare for scheduling meetings. After talking through it, we decided that internal meetings would now be scheduled during nap #1 or nap #2. We simply told our colleagues this, and everyone was extremely supportive. I would message or email when my daughter was getting sleepy and 10 min later, we would all hop on a video call.
It would have been so easy for me to decide that colleagues without kids just would not get it, but they did not have to get it, they just needed clear communication. Get comfortable asking for what you need if you are serious about building your career while raising an infant. Get serious about trust and communication, do not assume teammates will not understand.
(3) Opportunity Cost
Raising kids is expensive, and at times it may feel like you are working to break even with childcare costs. However, keep in mind that women who work to build a career even when they are only offsetting childcare costs do make more money in the long run, from not delaying or turning down new opportunities.
When opportunity comes knocking, it can be easy to say no, especially considering how sleep-deprived you are. Trust me I have been there and am there again right now! You need to limit what you say yes to, but when great opportunities come knocking, the kind you really want to say yes to, I encourage you to try to think of how you can make it work.
(4) Put effort into efficiency
There is only so much time in a day, and early on in parenting, I was wasting a lot of it! Cue Google… it turns out there are a lot of resources online to help working moms be more efficient and save hours. Here are a few examples:
- Menu plan & bulk buy
- Grocery shop online. Bonus points if a friend or colleague can pick up your order on route to meeting you (Kris has done this for me more than once).
- Wear protection over your clothes if you work right after a meal
- Outsource what you can
- Trade with other mums
- Embrace highchair & stroller meetings
There are many more of these tips out there!
(5) Set boundaries
Family time is family time! There needs to be special blocks of time set aside for you and your family. Do not let that cup get empty. Once a day I put my phone on silent and give my family undivided attention. Loving your career does not mean compromising all your family time.
(6) It is just… hard
Only a small pool of women work through this stage of life, and it is REALLY HARD! The invisible load of motherhood is heavy. I have a mum group, called the mompreneurs. This period of life is a special type of crazy that no one else will fully understand, not even your partner, so having a group of mums who are in the same stage can be cathartic. Seek this out if you do not have it already.
Thanks for taking the time to read this blog. I am so lucky and privileged to have had the experience of working my dream job while building my family and being in a position of career empowerment. I know it is still rare to be able to discuss family planning at work without fear or trepidation, and I hope this continues to change.
Please share your working motherhood stories with us in the comments below. We want to hear them and let them be heard!
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